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Barrio is in the general sense of the Spanish language the name for a district or a city district. Spanish-speaking metropolises are divided into "barrios"; this also applies to Filipino cities. In rural areas in the Philippines, the term “barrio” also simply refers to a larger town known as a baryo in the Filipino language . In a narrower sense is meant by "Barrio" in Latin America, mostly from indigenous and Caribbean inhabited black population giant Substädte the major cities on the border between suburban and slum . The large Latino neighborhoods in the USA are also known as “Barrio”: “El Barrio” in New York City is a synonym for Spanish Harlem .

Barrio in Central and South America

The South American barrios are much more than just districts, they denote a very special attitude to life, social structure, music, culture, which differ considerably from barrio to barrio. This ranges from slums on the edge of the rubbish dump without water and electricity to sociopolitical showcase projects to self-confident working-class suburbs with well-developed infrastructure and wealthy middle-class scene barrios. The barrio also stands as a vital counter-model to the empty, faceless city center.

Lima prototype

The Peruvian capital Lima is the prototype of a Latin American metropolis with a distinctive barrio culture : At the beginning of the 20th century, the population began to expand and grew beyond the city ​​walls of the old Spanish city from the time of the Conquista . The affluent upper middle class moved from the crowded center to the quiet garden suburbs of the south. The established working class moved to the other side of the Río Rímac and built their own barrios: Today, “Barrio Obrero Industrial” is an independent, flourishing city with good infrastructure, a private university and around 350,000 inhabitants. On the outskirts of the city, in the formerly uninhabited sandy deserts at the foot of the Andes , indigenous rural refugees from the Sierra settled and built their own shanty towns . Around half of the estimated seven million inhabitants of Lima now live in such improvised, semi-illegal barrios; some, such as the famous self-government project “Villa El Salvador”, even made the leap to become a social showcase project. The infiltration by terrorist groups such as the notorious “Sendero Luminoso” ( Shining Path ) repeatedly causes massive problems.

Barrio and crime

The "Barrio Pablo Escobar " near Medellín in Colombia is notorious : it was built in a garbage dump by the drug dealer of the same name and former "Public Enemy No. 1" for around twelve thousand people, but is not recognized by the Colombian state and is not shown on any map. In Central American states such as Honduras and El Salvador , the barrios are highly explosive social hot spots and home to the youth gangs of the Mara , e.g. B. the notorious gang "Barrio 18".

Barrios in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic

In Venezuela , the word barrio is primarily understood to mean the informal poor areas that have formed (primarily in the largest cities such as Caracas , Valencia and Maracaibo ) over the last few decades. In addition, the term is used here as a description of a “quarter” of a district (Parroquia) as well as to delimit the districts with small (often self-built) houses from the large high-rise buildings (Edificios).

The former meaning is also reflected in the name of a social program of the Bolivarian government: Barrio Adentro (Into the Barrio, In the Barrio). The so-called Misión is supposed to guarantee free basic medical care for everyone (especially for the impoverished people in the barrios ). She receives support from Cuban doctors who have been working in the slums and other affected areas since the program was founded.

In the Dominican Republic , barrios have a similar meaning as in Venezuela.

Barrio in the USA


In the USA, especially in Southern California , “Barrio” is a synonym for Latino neighborhoods, especially in socially disadvantaged areas in larger cities. The “barrio gangs” stand for a social gray area between cultural identity and crime.

new York

In New York City, which with Spanish Harlem (“El Barrio”) has one of the largest and most famous barrios in the USA, the “Museo del Barrio” on 5th Avenue is reminiscent of Latin American and Caribbean district culture.

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico the term barrio is used to denote a subdivision of a municipality and its lowest officially recognized administrative unit. A barrio in Puerto Rico is not endowed with political authority.

Barrio in Europe

In Europe , too, neighborhoods that are mostly inhabited by Latin Americans are called “barrio”, but here more in the sense of an independent, lively pub and cultural scene; the largest in Germany is the "Barrio Latino" in Saarbrücken .

In Spain it is called "Barrio":

  • a part of the municipality, example: the "Puerto Naos" part of the municipality of Los Llanos (INE code 38 024 00 08 00)
  • part of a municipality, example: the village "Puerto Naos" of the "Puerto Naos" part of the municipality of Los Llanos (see above) (INE code 38 024 00 08 02)
  • part of a municipality together with the immediately surrounding scattered houses; no statistical assignment possible
  • a historically grown location that is part of a municipality, but is not statistically a separate entity. Example: Los Campitos (located in the Las Manchas part of the municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane); no statistical assignment possible
  • a historically grown locality, which is composed of parts of a municipality of several municipalities or parts of municipality of several municipalities or parts of municipality of several parts of a municipality. Example: Las Manchas (made up of the Las Manchas part of the municipality of Los Llanos des Aridane and the Las Manchas part of the El Paso municipality); no statistical assignment possible

Individual evidence

  1. Ponce. Proyecto Salon Hogar. Map of the Barrios of Ponce. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  2. Un Acercamiento Sociohistorico y Linguistico a los Toponimos del Municipio de Ponce, Puerto Rico. Amparo Morales, María T. Vaquero de Ramírez. "Estudios de lingüística hispánica: homenaje a María Vaquero". Page 113.Retrieved March 14, 2017.

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